Thursday, June 3, 2010

Squirm (1976)

Killer worms…yup, you read that right. That is pretty much the premise of Squirm, a B-movie from writer/director Jeff Lieberman (Just Before Dawn, Satan’s Little Helper, Blue Sunshine). While this is no doubt one of Lieberman’s worst horror films, it still holds a certain campy charm and should be viewed at least once for its over-the-top and silly story.

From the opening scenes of extreme close-ups of worms screaming (yup…screeching their little tails off!!), you know you’ve entered campy territory! We are then introduced to the main characters after a huge storm has hit their backwater Southern town. They don’t know it yet, but lightening from the storm fried all the worms in the vicinity and made them angry little buggers hungry for flesh! Meanwhile, a city slicker named Mick (Don Scardino) arrives in town to visit his girlfriend Geri (Patricia Pearcy). Mick and Geri keep stumbling over dead bodies, stripped down to the bone, and Mick is determined to solve this strange mystery. He suspects his girlfriend’s next door neighbor, Roger (R.A. Dow) who just so happen to run a worm farm, and starts nosing around for evidence or clues. The townspeople don’t take too kindly to this outsider, so when he discovers that killer worms are behind the murders, no one believes him. It’s up to Mick and Geri to find a way to stop the flesh-eating worms, but will they be able to make it out alive?

Make no mistake, Squirm is an awful movie, but it’s also one of those so-bad-it’s-good flicks that make for a fun viewing experience if watched within the proper state of mind.

Let’s get all the bad elements out of the way – first of all, the acting is atrocious! The actors play the Southern characters completely over the top and, good God, their accents are awful! None of the actors (save for the guy who plays the Sheriff) were Southern and their terribly twangy and grating “accents” can attest to that! Besides the accents, most of the characters were just annoying and I didn’t care whether they lived or became worm food.

Secondly, the plot has lots of unbelievable elements (a dude from New York is really gonna come alllllll the way to a backwoods Southern town to slum it with a small-town girl? Really???) not to mention the silly premise of electricity turning worms deadly.  ‘Nuff said.

Third, the pacing during the first part of the film is off and nothing much happens until 45 minutes or so in…the first part where Mick runs around looking for clues feels more like a Scooby Doo plotline than anything else, and gets pretty boring.

Despite all these problems, a certain charm worms (I couldn’t resist) its way into the film. A surprising scene involving worms burrowing into someone’s face is pretty shocking and the scenes of a massive army of glistening, squirming worms invading a house are impressive and cringe-worthy.

This was one of director Jeff Lieberman’s earlier films and despite its campiness (intentional or unintentional) I am glad that he went on to film more straight-faced horror like the underrated Just Before Dawn as well as other “outrageous” horror films like Satan’s Little Helper. While Squirm isn’t his best work, it is still pretty gosh darn entertaining!

Go ahead and open this can of worms (sorry…had to be done!)!

Available from Amazon!

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